Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

GOP: For The People -or- An Elitist Whites Only Club?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, July 16, 2020

Today, NPR published a story headlined as “Trump Defied The 2013 GOP Autopsy. So Was It A ‘Failure’?

The NPR article is largely a rehash of a Politico article published in March 2016 which was entitled “Trump kills GOP autopsy.

The premise and the conclusion in the NPR headline are both wrong, just as much as it is in the Politico article.

Both articles point to a 100-page report entitled “Growth & Opportunity Project” published in January 2013 and authored by Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Ari Fleischer, Zori Fonalledas, and Glenn McCall, which was an unvarnished review of the party, its operations, strategies, tactics, and policies, among others. In essence, it answered the question “how does the national Republican party become more appealing and relevant?”

The report was the December 2012 brainchild of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus following the defeat of GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan, who charged the party’s co-chairs with “making recommendations and assisting in putting together a plan to grow the Party and improve Republican campaigns.”

Their extensive work is sometimes called the “GOP Autopsy,” though its proper name is the RNC Growth Opportunity Book 2013. That report may be downloaded from this site in the preceding link, or via the Internet Archive.

Their work which culminated in the report included contacts with over 52,000 people, conversations with over 2600 people within and without the Washington, D.C. beltway, “with voters, technical experts, private sector officials, Party members, and elected office holders,” Republicans of all ideological backgrounds, including those who had left the part for various reasons. They also conducted a poll among 2000 Hispanic Republican voters, as well as with “political practitioners at the state and national level and also conducted a survey of GOP pollsters [and] consulted with independent pollsters.” They noted also that “more than 36,000 individuals participated in our online survey to determine priorities and to identify additional volunteers for the Party.”

It was an almost-exhaustive work which identified that the party needed to increase its outreach to youth, women, and minorities, if it was going to flourish.

But at its core, and in the introduction, is an acknowledgement that the GOP is the “Party of Reagan,” and wrote that “Ronald Reagan is a Republican hero and role model” who established ideals that included “conservative promises of reducing the size of government while making people’s lives better.”

The logic of “reducing the size of government” is inherently contradictory, because, according to that logic, even though population and needs increase, at some point, a smaller government would do a better job, and at some further point, would actually disappear. Try seeing how that “logic” works in a crowded restaurant with inadequate staffing sometime.

Contrary to the assertion, however, the long-term view has shown that in the 40 years since his inauguration, many Reagan policies have actually harmed and been costly to America, including:

• Reckless disregard for the mentally ill and the institutions and hospitals where they were receiving help and treatment, and instead, packing prisons with them.
(POTUS Carter signed the landmark Mental Health Systems Act in 1980 which would continue the Federal Community Mental Health Centers program with some additional state involvement “for projects for the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of positive mental health,” but once Reagan took office, he signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, on August 13, which repealed most of the MHSA, and then block-granted the money to the states. The April 9, 1985 General Accounting Office report “Homelessness: A Complex Problem And The Federal Response” stated that “inadequate community resources for the mentally ill, increases in personal crises, cuts In public assistance, and the decline of low-income housing” as principle causes.)

Until then, homelessness had neither been a permanent, nor significant long-term problem in America.

• Increasing the “school-to-prison pipeline” and packing penal populations by incarcerating low-level non-violent drug law offenders, primarily as low-level cannabis consumers (thereby increasing Federal, State and Local burdens among law enforcement, judicial, and incarceration costs, which in turn reduced workforce participation, and increased unemployment primarily among minority communities;

• Taxing Social Security benefits received by the elderly retirees (until Reagan’s term in office, Social Security benefits had never been Federally taxed), and;

• Drastic tax cuts among the wealthy that reduced Federal operating revenue so much, that they had to be severely modified, or repealed during his first term of office.

Yet it wasn’t as if we weren’t warned about it, for in his first inaugural address he made it explicitly and unequivocally clear by stating specifically that “government is the problem.”

Naturally, of course, if government is the problem, the obvious solution to that problem is abolition of it. So from there, he set out to tear down and minimize as many governmental organizations as possible.

Reagan’s “supply side” economic theory postulated that tax cuts encouraged economic expansion, which in turn would increase the government’s revenue at a lower tax rate.

But his “supply side” economics had a dark side – increased deficits and higher interest rates. Reagan’s economic gains came at significant cost – a tripled annual budget deficit exacerbated by a trade deficit, and a growing national debt. And in the years since, though America’s population continues to grow, along with an increase in inventions, creative works, and other needs, Federal operating revenue, and the mechanism for collection of it – the Internal Revenue Service – has been in a continuous state of decline due to a “starvation diet” implemented by the GOP.

taxes, revenue, GIF, Federal, State, Local

Since 1950, the combined total tax rates – Federal, State, and Local – have been significantly reduced, despite the fact that American population has more than doubled from 150,697,361 in 1950, to 330,000,000 in 2020.

Federal tax revenues have declined precipitously since the Reagan administration, along with the specious notion that a growing nation will produce more revenue at a lower rate – again, an inversely proportional aspect – which analogously could be stated as “the more desert land there is, the more rain will fall.” It’s so bizarre, and absurdly preposterous, that it doesn’t warrant a moment’s consideration.

A recent Congressional Budget Office report published July 2020, entitled “Trends in the Internal Revenue Service’s Funding and Enforcement,” found that ” the IRS estimated that an average of $441 billion (16 percent) of the taxes owed annually [emphasis added] between 2011 and 2013 was not paid in accordance with the law.”

That report also found that the wealthiest 1% of Americans are responsible for 70% of all unpaid taxes, and that this year alone, with the amount they owe, it would be entirely possible to “fund tuition-free college for all, eliminate child hunger, ensure clean drinking water for every American household, build half a million affordable housing units, provide masks to all, produce the protective gear and medical supplies our health workers need to combat this pandemic, and fully fund the U.S. Postal Service.”

The report was prepared at the request of the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, who said upon reading the report’s findings that, “That is an absolute outrage, and this report should make us take a long, hard look at what our national priorities are all about.”

Yet despite the slash-and-burn attack on the American public, the primary reason why Reagan was so well-liked, even loved, was his grandfatherly ways, and charm as a Hollywood has-been, and B-movie actor.

Reagan, however, is far from a “Republican hero and role model.”

Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight David Eisenhower are Republican heroes and role models.

So for the GOP, in a sense, Trump is their anti-hero, much like honey badger in the video “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger.” As the announcer on the YouTube video states, “Honey badger don’t care; honey badger don’t give a shit – it just takes what it wants. Honey badger is really kind of bad ass. It has no regard for any other animal whatsoever.”

Trump is much like that.

Trump defied nothing in order to win the GOP’s Presidential Nomination, and subsequent 2016 General Election.

Further, Trump exploited nothing in order to win the party’s nomination, or the election.

Trump’s campaign played to the lowest common denominator – a veritable redux of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” – and in his typical narcissistic fashion, he manipulated media knowing that the jackals, hyenas, flies and vultures accumulate where carrion lies. He truly took to heart what the British pop group “Sugababes” said in 2005 following widespread negatively critical review of their song “Gotta’ Be You.”

“This song is about reacting to the press when they slag you off, about how they judge you. When we heard the song we loved it. To be honest, any publicity is good publicity whether it’s positive or negative, and it’s taken us a while to get that. When the press write something negative and something that’s untrue, it’s hard to look at that in a positive way. We could really relate to the song.”

The perverted hero worship of greedy “outsourcing,” “off-shoring” slash-and-burn Wall Street criminals like Albert J. “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap, Enron Founder & CEO Kenneth Lay, profiteering corporate raiders like Carl Icahn, hostile take-over leveraged buy-out asset-stripper thieves and con-men like Victor Posner, Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, and others had accumulated, and come to a head in the trial of HealthSouth Founder & CEO Richard Scrushy upon charges of violating the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, a new corporate responsibility law, but having tainted the religious jury pool of his peers with filthy lucre, they found him not guilty.

The American people have become desperate, sick, poverty-stricken, homeless, subservient to corporate masters, enforced by courts, and having lost family, friends, and their businesses, livelihoods and health, they needed a hero, even an anti-hero.

As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

They knew who the enemy was, and for them, they wanted, and they desperately needed, someone to believe in, someone who could – and would – clean house. The massive groundswell of Sanders’ supporters was evidence of that fact. But unbeknownst to them, Bernie had been effectively snuffed out, along with the people and their fondest hopes, and wildest dreams, by Hillary Clinton.

Desperate people will do desperate things, and for them, Trump was their desperado.

And so, as the Party of Lincoln “suddenly” came to their senses and decided that they’d had enough of his utter lack of experience, civility and decorum, they continued to stand idly by and watch in stupefied amazement and wide-eyed wonderment as he wreaked havoc within and without government, thereby fulfilling the Reagan promise.

It was just like the line in the Bob Seger song “Night Moves”:

“I used her, she used me. But neither one cared.”

The GOP’s “death spiral” has occurred because of its own mismanagement.

Republicans continue to be tone deaf.

In the “GOP Autopsy” paper, the authors wrote in part that,

“We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

And yet in the 7 years since the report was published in 2013, they have done no such thing – nothing even remotely close – either to those words, or the principles those words ensconce.

Republicans have consistently voted against every piece of legislation that would benefit the people, time, and time, and time again. From the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to the Affordable Care Act, to the environment, clean energy, the EPA, the FCC, and practically every governmental agency which even remotely touches upon human activity, the GOP has consistently opposed it, attempted to destroy it, or so hobbled and gutted it so that it was effectively rendered useless.

Further, the GOP could have – but DID NOT – prevent Trump from campaigning under their banner.

The courts have consistently ruled that political parties are private entities – they are only required to be public to the extent that they engage and curry public participation such as voting or campaign finance. Otherwise, they are private. One could truthfully say that political parties are “Members Only” organizations and events.

One only need examine the unethically despicable treatment and duplicitous behavior of the Democratic Party toward candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign to know that there were no laws broken.

In her book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House” Donna Brazile, former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee described in pertinent part how Hillary had taken control of the DNC, or more accurately, how she negotiated for its control following a very difficult financial time:

“I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

“So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.”

“When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

“The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook [Hillary’s Campaign Manager] with a copy to Marc Elias [General Counsel for Hillary’s campaign]—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”

Had the same things happened to a governmental entity, folks (most notably as Hillary Clinton, and many others) would’ve been in prison by now. And the deliberate conflation of questions and matters in the myriad investigations ranging from Benghazi to private email servers, resulted in the “LOCK HER UP” chants at the 2016 GOP convention.

Bernie and Trump share similarities insofar as both have populist appeal. And that’s where the similarities stop.

But back to the “GOP Autopsy,” and whether Trump’s victory proved it either wrong, or correct.

America has been sold to the highest bidder, and while Republicans are largely to blame for its destruction, Democrats bear some responsibility, as well.

So-called “outsourcing” and “off-shoring” of American jobs to cheap Chinese, South Korean, Vietnamese, and Central American factories has not been good for Americans who actually have “enjoyed” lower prices on goods manufactured overseas – cheap Chinese junk, if you will.

The philosophical, ideological outsourcing of American ingenuity, writing laws that rewarded substitution of capital profit for compassion, and accumulation of wealth for virtue, has been accomplished at the hands of long-term politicians of both parties. Nowhere is that more evident than with “Corporate Democrats” who obeisance to greed and fealty to corporate lobbyists has produced continued damage to Average Americans, often under the guise of “reform.”

But there’s been another, much-less-talked-about problem, which is that wages have largely stagnated since the “Nixon Shock” when then-POTUS Nixon unilaterally removed America from the Gold Standard on Sunday, August 15, 1971.

Following closely asson the heels of the the Great Depression came World War II, the catastrophic combination of which caused global upheaval in the world’s nations and economies. In order to stabilize them, and establish a system of trade which would benefit everyone, in July 1944 an agreement was struck in Bretton Woods, NH among 44 nations represented by 730 delegates. The Bretton Woods Agreement established a Gold Standard (meaning that the Dollar was backed by, and could be exchanged for gold), and tied international currencies to the value of the United States Dollar.

In order to facilitate those efforts, two new institutions were created – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which would monitor exchange rates and lend reserve currencies to nations with balance-of-payments deficits, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is now known as the World Bank Group, was responsible for providing financial assistance for the reconstruction after World War II and the economic development of less developed countries.¹ ²

With Nixon’s announcement that the Dollar would not longer be converted into gold (thereby ending the Gold Standard, and making the Dollar a fiat currency, backed by nothing), the Bretton Woods Agreement was killed.

In conjunction with the elimination of laws regulating the financial markets of Wall Street stock brokerage houses, Commercial Banks, and Big Insurance companies via the Glass-Steagall Act, as well as the weakening of other laws affording protection to employees against abuses by employers and industry, and the drastic reduction in income tax rates upon the wealthiest Americans and corporation to the extent that they all practically pay a flat rate -and- the gutting of the Internal Revenue Service, all of those events have all contributed to the havoc wreaked upon Americans under which they now suffer.

So, NO, Trump’s election does NOT prove, nor does it disprove, the “GOP Autopsy.”

Even as things now stand, and as stated in that document, the GOP STILL doesn’t “get it” and no amount of kind words, or jingoisms will cause sensibly-minded voters to return to the GOP’s “Big Tent,” simply because IT IS NOT IN THEIR BEST INTEREST TO DO SO.

It’s just that simple.

Americans have reached a point of desperation, and current events – the continued presence of racism as evidenced in part by multiple murders of Black men and women by law enforcement authorities throughout America, in combination with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – are all exposing the structural weaknesses which have been created by GOP termites.

Just today, JP MorganChase announced the findings of their most recent financial research which showed that the extra $600 of Unemployment Compensation from the Federal government actually HELPED keep the economy afloat.

“Although average spending fell for all households as the economy shut down at the start of the pandemic, we find that unemployed households actually increased their spending beyond pre-unemployment levels once they began receiving benefits. The fact that spending by benefit recipients rose during the pandemic instead of falling, like in normal times, suggests that the $600 supplement has helped households to smooth consumption and stabilized aggregate demand.”

The GOP voted against that help for the people, and even now, they want to discontinue it. And yet, it’s keeping the economy afloat.

As further evidence of the strength created by the extra $600 of Unemployment Compensation, the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending was up 8.2% in May, which followed spending drops of 6.6% in March and 12.6% in April. Americans’ spending increased in May despite a 4.2% decline in personal income.

The Associated Press reported that,

“Income had jumped in April on the strength of billions of dollars in support through government payments in the form of unemployment aid as well as one-time $1,200 stimulus checks. In May, those stimulus checks were no longer counted as income for most people.

“Besides the unemployment aid states are providing to the 30 million jobless Americans, the federal government is providing $600 a week in additional benefits. The federal money has pumped nearly $20 billion a week into the economy and enabled many of the unemployed to stay afloat. But the $600 a week in aid will expire after July, and Trump administration officials have said they oppose an extension.”

Business Insider reported the Census Bureau’s findings in more detail and wrote that “overall, retail sales continued their rise in June, gaining another 7.5% on top of May’s explosive 18.2% monthly growth. The gains were more than economists had expected, and were anything but level across sub-categories.”

In descending order, the category breakdowns per the census data are as follows:

• Clothing +105.1%
• Electronics +37.4%

• Furniture +32.5%
• Sporting goods +26.5%

• Restaurant, bars +20%
• Dept. stores +19.8%

• Cars, parts +8.2%
• Health +3.5%

• Grocery -1.6%
• Online -2.4%

Two years ago, on August 13, 2018, Jennifer Rubin wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post which succinctly stated the problem with the GOP. She chose to quote former 2-term Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, correctly identified a key problem for Republicans — they have become cloistered in their own world of white grievance. Claiming victimhood, they become more bitter and resentful by the day. (“I’m not for people who say the reason you don’t have something is because somebody else took your stuff. That’s called victimization.”) What’s missing is any largeness of spirit, any sense of what others are experiencing. The party they lead in turn becomes, as Kasich noted, “increasingly unwilling to put themselves in the shoes of somebody else. Even when you think about family separation at the border, some people say, ‘Well, you know, they had a choice. They didn’t need to go there.’ Well, many of them had to go there to save their kids’ lives, literally.

Kasich reminded his fellow Republicans:

“I think what’s fundamentally changed our country is that many people have not come to understand what faith is, which is loving your neighbor, elevating others, sometimes in front of yourself, putting yourself in other people’s shoes. And when we don’t do that, we lose the essence of our country. When my father and my uncle talked about the Great Depression, everybody pulled together. And what we’re seeing now is people pulling apart rather than coming together. And I think that’s an element of religiosity. If you’re a humanist, I love you anyway because, you know, you believe in making a better tomorrow. But we need the compass back.”


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